US M1917 Trench Knife by American Cutlery Company
- Product Code: EWSK-1584
- Availability: In Stock
The U.S. Model 1917 Trench Knife was the first “Knuckle Knife” to be officially adopted and issued to the military forces of any nation. It was developed for use in the horrific trench warfare that typified the stalemate on the Western Front during World War One. The knife was designed by Henry Disston & Sons (H.D. & S.) of Philadelphia, PA. and was produced by them, as well as several other makers, including The American Cutlery Company (A.C. & CO), Oneida Community Ltd (O.C.L.) and Landers, Frary & Clark (L.F. & C.). The knives were produced in two primary variations, with some minor differences in the arrangement and design of the knuckle “spikes” and the attachment of the rear of the knuckle bow to the hilt. In all cases, the knives were manufactured with nominally 9” triangular blades that were intending exclusively for stabbing. The crossguards were made of stamped steel, with pyramid shaped projections along the exterior of the guard (LF&C) or stamped serrated projections along the edge of the guard. With both variants, the projections were stamped as part of the guard in the forming process and were not separately attached to the guard. The pyramid projections simply being stamped out of the center of the guard, and the serrated “dragon tooth” flanges being die cut as part of the guard and then stamped into positions. Both the blades and the crossguards were blued, and the grip was made of smooth walnut. The knives were carried in leather scabbards that had a green painted finish. The scabbard mountings were of blued steel, with the throat having a wire mount for attaching the knives to the eyelets of the US web belts in use during that era.
The example of the US M1917 Trench Knife offered here is in about FINEcondition and is contained in a nice, original scabbard. The knife was produced by the American Cutlery Company of Chicago, IL. This variant is like the original Disston version, with flanged, serrated knuckle guard projections, not the pyramid projections found on the more common LF&C knife. The American Cutlery Co. was established in 1879 and produced a wide variety of housewares and cutlery, and even silver services. The company went out of business in 1928.
This M1917 Trench Knife is clearly marked in one line on the inner bottom of the handguard: A.C. CO. U.S.A. 1917. The handguard retains about 50%+ of its original blued finish, with some fading, thinning, wear and loss. The balance of the guard has a dull bluish gray patina that blends with the original blue. The guard shows some scattered light surface oxidation and some light patches of minor surface crust. The blued steel blade is mostly smooth and retains about 50%+ of the original bright blue finish, with moderate loss and fading that is primarily along the center of the blade; the result of normal wear from being inserted in and removed from the steel mounted scabbard. The blade does show some scattered light surface oxidation as well, as well as some pinpricking near the tip. This is all minor and does not materially impact the display of the knife. The walnut grip is in about FINE condition. It is free of breaks, cracks or chips. The grip does show a handful of minor bumps, dings and handling marks, as would be expected, but remains crisp and in wonderful condition. The blade is full length and remains very sharp. The scabbard is in about FINEcondition as well. The scabbard is 100% complete and all of the stitching remains as tight as when it was made. All of the steel mountings are in place but retain only traces of their of their original blackened finish. The mounts are mostly a smooth brown patina, mixed with traces of the original blackening. There are some scattered patches of minor surface oxidation and roughness present on the mounts, particularly the drag. All of the original rivets that retain the throat and drag are in place, as is the original brass wire belt mount. The steel mounts are both inspector marked with an M.S and the top of the throat is marked H.E.. The scabbard body retains about 75%+ of its original olive-drab green painted finish, with some scattered light crazing and light wear on the surface. The scabbard is marked along the upper portion, near the seam: JEWELL 1918. The stamp remains mostly legible, although it is somewhat difficult to read the mark. The firm of Jewell, Pliny & Sons was established in Hartford, CT around 1845, where it was listed as a leather dealer, and by 1849 was listed as a maker of leather machine belts. During the American Civil War they received contracts for at least 30,000 sets of infantry accoutrements and remained in business through at least the World War I era.
Overall this is a very nice displaying example of a popular and very collectible World War I era US trench knife. The knife and scabbard are 100% complete and correct in every way and would make a nice addition to any military edged weapons collection. The flanged “dragon teeth” knives are scarcer than the more commonly encountered LF&C pyramid projection knives. Since the Disston and Oneida made knives are practically never found for sale, an American Cutlery Company knife is usually the only way a collector can obtain a flanged knuckle knife for their collection at any kind of reasonable price. This one is in nice condition and would be a wonderful addition in any military fighting knife collection, especially one that concentrates on the fighting knives of the “War To End All Wars”.